In 1945, at the age of 17, Harry “Dean” Clark Jr. joined the Merchant Marines to take supplies to France and Germany. Some 64 years later. Clark was recognized for his World War II service by being awarded the Atlantic War Zone Medal, the Victory Medal and a Presidential Testimonial Letter signed by President Harry Truman.
On Saturday, Clark was honored by the Pennsylvania Veterans Foundation with the Sandy Walker Award, which was awarded during the foundation’s annual grant awards, held at the Lt. John C. Roche VFW Post 212. Mike Gould, chairman of the foundation, and a native of Coleville, attended.
The award is named in honor of Sandy Walker, a Vietnam War veteran who dedicated his time after the military to helping homeless war veterans in York.
Nearly a quarter of a million dollars in grants was awarded to several nonprofit veterans assistance agencies from all across the state at this event.
The Bradford VFW was chosen to host the event due to its generosity and steady support of the foundation’s mission.
Clark’s 35-year military career began March 10, 1947, when he joined the U.S. Army as a high school dropout. Enlisted promotions came quickly as he was promoted to master sergeant with four years of service. In 1950, the master sergeant was sent to Korea. Shortly thereafter, he was commissioned to second lieutenant as a field medical service officer serving at the front line.
He is credited for saving countless lives in 1952-53. He returned with a Purple Heart award and numerous other awards and decorations.
He left the Army to go to school — eventually earning his PhD in microbiology — and returned to the Army in 1959. He attended the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. Clark served in numerous overseas assignments including Greece, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
In 1967-68, he again served in combat — this time in Vietnam doing medical operations.
He was responsible for locating and relocating medical organizations in closer proximity to the troops. After Vietnam, he continued overseas, serving in Germany for eight years.
After returning, he went to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, where he continued to hone his technical skills in medicine and many other critical areas. He is among one of the first non-Army physicians selected by the Army Surgeon General to command an Army Medical group previously commanded exclusively by physicians. From 1980 to 1987, he served at the Pentagon, where he was chief of Army Medical Services.
Clark retired in 1987.
On June 10, 2014, the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to Puerto Rico’s 65th Infantry Regiment, which Clark was a leader in its ranks. This was the first segregated Hispanic military unit and the first unit of the Korean War to receive such an award. Clark continues his service as a leader in various positions in the Military Order of the Purple Heart — Department of Pennsylvania.
He serves today as the lead veterans service officer — overseeing offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh while still assisting every veteran that comes to him for help. He has been in that organization’s support of the Pennsylvania Veterans Foundation, generating over $500,000 in donations.